Right or Wrong? (Making Moral Decisions)
[Educational Screen, Oct 1951] The film presents a series of situations which involve moral decisions and raises the question of whether or not each of the individuals, in the opinion of the audience, acted according to the best moral principles and practices.
The narrative prologue -- "Most of us think we know what is right. Do we? Here are some situations which involve moral decisions. Test yourself. Decide what you think is right -- and why" -- introduces the audience to the film.
The main action in the film opens at a warehouse at night as a gang of teenage boys throw stones at a many-paned window. All but Harry throw their rocks. The watchman recognizes only Harry, the boy who did not throw his rocks. Since he knows Harry's father, he wonders if he should forget that he saw Harry. The voice of the narrator points out that the watchman has a decision to make which will influence the lives of several people and that he must make a decision as to which alternative is right and which is wrong. He also asks each person in the audience to determine what decision he would reach in this situation and explain its possible effects on the lives of those involved. The watchman decides to report Harry to the police.
When the police officer rings the bell at Harry's home, his mother answers. She is alarmed to see a policeman and when he asks for Harry, she pauses to decide whether she should hand him over to the police or whether she should cover up for him. The narrator again asks the audience to decide which is the better course of action and why. The mother decides to give Harry to the police.
Mr. Kastner, the owner of the warehouse, having been informed about the vandalism, immediately goes to the police station and demands that Harry be brought to trial if he doesn't divulge the names of his gang. He points out that he feels that this is right since it is necessary to stop vandalism, which has been too long uncurbed. Again the audience is asked to decide whether or not they would have decided as Mr. Kastner did.
When Kastner leaves, Sergeant Kelly tries to get Harry to talk. Harry stubbornly disclaims responsibility in breaking the warehouse windows and refuses to tell the names of the boys who did because he doesn't think it would be right to squeal on the others. Even when Barker, a man from Harry's church, takes Harry past the broken warehouse windows and then on to his house, Harry still refuses to talk. Barker asks Harry a last question before they turn out the lights, "Is it right to hide a lawbreaker from justice?"
The narrator points out that Harry's problem is far from solved and that it is not the purpose of the film to solve it. He says to the audience, "The question is up to you. Think back over the moral decisions. Did you agree with them? It's your story now. You decide what is right."
Ken Smith sez: A gang of "toughs" breaks some warehouse windows, and the night watchman recognizes one of the punks as youthful Harry Green. He's hauled into the police station and he has to decide which is worse -- "squealing" on his friends, or "hiding lawbreakers." This dark film takes place entirely in one night, and as we encounter each character we hear them agonizing to themselves in VOs as they make moral decisions. Sgt. Kelly ("It'll be much easier for you if you help us") played Dick York's weird dad in Shy Guy. An interesting film; winner of an unexciting Diploma of Participation at the 1952 International Film Festival For Children.
JUVENILE DELINQUENCY TEENAGERS MORALITY NIGHT WATCHMEN SECURITY GUARDS MOTHERS POLICEMEN SOCIAL WORKERS BURGLARY WAREHOUSES BREAKING & ENTERING THEFT CRIME & PUNISHMENT Gangs Juvenile delinquency Crime and criminals Children Teenagers Glass (breaking) Factories
- Closed captioning
- United States
- Run time
Subject: Pedophilia, Normalized
Subject: Typical 50's social hygiene film
Subject: It's Marky Mark!
Harry (who looks screamingly like someone from the Wahlberg family) is with a pack of hoodlums when they break a couple of windows at a warehouse (Harry doesnt he chickens out). The nightwatchman thinks.. should I report him to the cops? (he does). The cops come to his front door. Should his Mom let them in? (She does) Harry is then taken to the police station, where the detective is having a conversation with the warehouse manager.. The warehouse manager wants the policeman to make an example of him. Should the policeman do that? (he doesn't). The film THEN takes a only-in-the-fifties turn when a priest shows up at the station and TAKES HIM HOME. No doubt, to talk some sense into the boy, but WHY this was done is I'm quite sure lost on the "Priests are big boy pervs" audience of today, who would think of ANOTHER moral decision the priest would make later on that night (aw nuts, the film ended!) Reccomended!
Subject: The boy wont talk... I'll force him to talk!
Subject: Like something out of Shakespeare...
Should Harry's mom have told the police that her son lived there, after they showed up at the house and asked for him?
Should the man who's windows were broken have pressed charges?
Should the police chief have questioned Harry after the charges were pressed?
These are just some of the hard-hitting questions asked of the viewer in this short on morality.
Bonus: Harry wrestles with his inner demons, using every muscle in his face.
Subject: Right or Wrong?
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: **. Weirdness: ****. Historical Interest: *****. Overall Rating: ****. Also available on The Educational Archives, Vol. 2: Social Engineering 101.